Approximately 45 Civilians Killed, Including 13 Children, and 51 Vital Civilian Facilities Targeted From October 5-12, 2023
Press release: (Download the full report below)
The Hague – The Syrian Network for Human Rights today released a report entitled, ‘Syrian-Russian Alliance Forces Have Committed Violations that Constitute Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Through Unlawful Attacks Against Northwestern Syria’, in which the group revealed that approximately 45 civilians, including 13 children, were killed and 51 vital civilian facilities hit in targeted attacks from October 5-12, 2023, at the hands of Syrian-Russian alliance forces.
The 18-page report noted that, on October 5, 2023, Syrian regime forces escalated their attacks on northwestern Syria. While some of these attacks involved deliberate bombardment of some targets, it was clear that many of them had an indiscriminate aspect to them, with Syrian regime forces using various kinds of weapons, including cluster munitions. The attacks were concentrated in Idlib city and the surroundings areas in eastern, southern, western, and northern rural Idlib, as well as in western rural Aleppo governorate. The report also underlines Russian forces’ involvement and support for the Syrian regime in those attacks, by carrying out multiple airstrikes concentrated in western rural Idlib governorate.
SNHR documented the killing of 45 civilians, including 13 children and nine women (adult female), as well as three humanitarian workers in the attacks carried out by the Syrian-Russian alliance forces on a number of areas in the governorates of Idlib and Aleppo in northwestern Syria between October 5, and October 12, 2023. Of these, 44 civilians, including 12 children and nine women, were killed by Syrian regime forces, while one child was killed in one of the Russian attacks. Furthermore, the report recorded no fewer than 51 attacks on vital civilian facilities at the hands of Syrian-Russian alliance forces in northwestern Syria. Forty-nine of these attacks were carried out by Syrian regime forces – 42 in Idlib and seven in Aleppo, while two attacks were carried out by Russian forces in Idlib governorate. Of the 51 attacks documented in the report, 13 targeted schools, eight targeted medical facilities, five targeted rescue facilities and vehicles affiliated with the Syrian Civil Defense (White Helmets), eight targeted mosques, and six targeted gatherings/camps of internally displaced persons (IDPs).
The report further reveals that this offensive marked the first time that Syrian regime forces have used cluster munitions in about 11 months, with the regime forces using cluster munitions in an attack that targeted Idlib governorate, in which one civilian was killed, while eight others were injured. Moreover, the report confirms that Syrian regime forces carried out three attacks involving the use of incendiary ammunition targeting civilian areas distant from the frontlines.
The report stresses that Syrian-Russian alliance forces have again categorically violated Security Council resolutions 2139 and 2254 that call for ending indiscriminate attacks, as well as violating many of the rules of customary international humanitarian law. Furthermore, the report stresses that the bombardment of IDPs camps and civilian gatherings has created a state of terror and fear among the displaced, substantially exacerbating their already-catastrophic situation which already suffers from an extremely poor humanitarian response.
The report adds that these bombardment operations have collaterally caused the loss of civilian lives, injuries, and/or heavy damage to civilian objects. There are also significant, strong indicators suggesting that the damage was exceptionally excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage. In most cases, the attacks did not distinguish between civilians and military fighters; indeed, it seems that some of the attacks deliberately targeted vital facilities and civilian areas.
The report calls on the UN Security Council to issue a special resolution that establishes a ceasefire in Idlib which must involve punitive procedures in cases of non-compliance for all parties involved. The report adds that the Syrian dossier should be referred to the International Criminal Court, and all those involved in crimes must be held accountable, including the Russian regime whose involvement in war crimes has been well-proven.
Furthermore, the report calls on the UN General Assembly to hold the Russian and Syrian regimes responsible for these attacks, which resulted in many civilian deaths, and put pressure on the Security Council to take action to protect the Syrian people, and prevent Russia from claiming impunity simply on the grounds of its status as a permanent member of the Security Council, in addition to making other recommendations.